Profit by Giving it Away for Free

Yahoo is opening itself up:

“Officials of the world’s largest Internet media company said on Friday it planned to give away the underlying code to Yahoo Mail, one of the crown jewels of its business, in a bid to encourage software developers to build new applications based on e-mail.”

Why would a non-programmer care about this? Check out this reaction:

“This is totally new,” [computer science grad Dan] Lindquist said. “It’s interesting to me not because I can build something to make people more efficient, but because I can offer something whimsical.”

Creating a community around your product that allows individuals to express themselves through it is incredibly powerful. Perhaps this doesn’t affect the bottom line right away, but just look at MySpace.

As media gatekeepers from a previous generation test the waters online, their biggest reward may come by swinging those gates wide open. People will be more likely to be on your side and help build you up, than tear you down.

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